Safety and Outcome of Percutaneous Drainage of Pericardial Effusions in Patients with Cancer

Annop Lekhakul, Chalailak Assawakawintip, Eric R. Fenstad, Sorin V. Pislaru, Jeremy J. Thaden, Larry J. Sinak, Garvan C. Kane

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

7 Scopus citations


Malignancy is a common cause of pericardial effusions. The findings, immediate safety and longer-term outcomes of pericardiocentesis are less well defined. We reviewed the cases of all patients with malignancy that underwent pericardiocentesis at our institution over a 10-year period. From January 1, 2007 to December 31, 2016, 171 patients with cancer underwent echo-guided pericardiocentesis. A total of 53% were male with a mean age of 60 ± 15 years. The average volume drained was 485 (IQR 350 to 719) ml. The procedure was technically successful in 170/171 (99.4%) of patients without significant complications; there were no procedure-related deaths. A total of 20% had hemorrhagic, 48% had serosanguinous, and 31% serous pericardial effusions. The type of effusion was not associated with outcome. Cytology (measured in 164) was positive in 58% and only weakly related to outcome (median survival nine versus 18 weeks, p = 0.04). Per our institutional practice, a pericardial catheter was left in place until there were less than 50 ml of net drainage in 24 hours (average 3 ± 2 days). A total of 135 patients had metastatic carcinoma, 23 patients had lymphoma or chronic leukemia and 4 metastatic sarcoma. Patients with either lymphoma or chronic leukemia had better survival than those with carcinoma or sarcoma (median survival 102 vs 12 weeks, p < 0.0001) with a 46% vs 3% 5-year survival, p < 0.0001). Echoguided pericardiocentesis with extended pericardial catheter placement is safe and effective in cancer patients with pericardial effusions. However, overall outcomes are poor in cancer patients with pericardial effusions that required drainage, particularly in those with carcinoma or sarcoma.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1091-1094
Number of pages4
JournalAmerican Journal of Cardiology
Issue number6
StatePublished - Sep 15 2018

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Cardiology and Cardiovascular Medicine


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